Thursday’s 300: Darcy Overhears, Part 4

This week’s episode of Darcy Overhears is another short one. My vacation seriously got in the way of work! LOL My goal is 500 words per day, at least, so I hope to have full chapters to share once I get this first one done.

This tidbit takes up where the last post ended.

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As he entered the dimly lit room cluttered with stacks of books on every available space, Darcy examined the older gentleman who rose from his seat. They had met once before, when Mr. Bennet had called on Bingley, shortly after their arrival at Netherfield. Darcy had determined then that the master of Longbourn was an intelligent gentleman with a sharp wit and sardonic sense of humor. In the intervening days, he had come to learn, from tales shared by the neighbors, that Bennet was also indolent. Though he tried not to judge others based on the accounts of their neighbors, the behavior of the youngest two Bennet daughters certainly indicated a lack of attention and direction on the part of their parents. Hearing the gentleman speak, Darcy snapped his attention back to the situation at hand.

“Thank you, Hill. That will be all.” Bennet dismissed his housekeeper with a wave of his hand. “Gentlemen, welcome to Longbourn.” Bennet gestured to the chairs arranged in front of the fire. Please, be seated.”

Darcy waited until everyone had settled themselves and Bennet had offered port to them all before he spoke. “Thank you for seeing us.”

“I was surprised to see you all enter my book room. I cannot imagine what has brought you here.” Bennet leaned back in his seat, hands clasped over his belly.

Darcy looked down at the glass in his hand for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. Something in the tone of Bennet’s voice indicated that the gentleman would either make sport of Darcy during the course of the conversation, or deny the information, or both. Finally looking up, he began. “I was privy to a disturbing conversation yesterday as I was leaving a dinner with the officers of the militia stationed in Meryton.” Darcy gestured to Bingley and Hurst. “My friends were with me, and they heard the same thing I did.”

Bingley spoke up. “We did. We wanted to lend our support to Darcy, given the circumstances.”

Bennet nodded, then looked once more at Darcy. “What circumstances would they be?”

Darcy took a deep breath and related what he had heard, then waited for Bennet’s reaction.

Bennet leaned back in his seat at the end of Darcy’s recitation. “You say you know Mr. Wickham from your youth? He seems such a pleasant fellow. I confess I find it difficult to believe your story.” He turned to Bingley and Hurst. “Do the two of you also know the gentleman in question?”

Bingley replied first. “I do know him, though not as long as Darcy has. I entered Cambridge when Darcy was in his last year. Wickham was a year behind Darcy and one ahead of me. Wickham had a terrible reputation there as a gambler and worse. He tried to persuade me to join him in his pursuits of games and women, but I refused.”

“I see,” replied Bennet. “And you, Mr. Hurst?”

“I only know him by reputation. I trust my brother and Darcy, and I know what I heard last night.”

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